Friday, October 21, 2011

Ages of Lingusia: Villains of the Empire Era

Unfortunately I don't have any stat blocks to place here; most of these outlines were "high concept, plan for the future" type ideas, with the plan to stat villains as needed. That said, these villains all provide great backstories for evolving into entire campaign arcs as needed.

All of these villains have appeared in prior campaigns, some have met their fates in the future, and others still linger in undeath or immortality. With the "reboot" of the Empire Era however, all bets about their future is off...

And now...The Villains!!!

Undead (human) death knight, CE (Death Knight/Blackguard)
   This vile figure was one of the most well-known knights in the service of Xarion, a traitor to Hyrendan, where he was the son of the highlord of the city, who had in his youth joined the rising cults of chaos that flourished in darkened alleys and hidden catacombs. He grew in power, founding his own selective order of so-called Death Knights, who in turn swore an oath of service to the chaos gods and their servitor Xarion. When the Dark War began, Darkseed was responsible for Hyrendan’s fall, as well as securing the cooperation and surrender of Blackholm; some believe he has an affair with Lady Nialle (later to become the dark lich queen, who ruled for many centuries).
   Darkseed was called upon by Xarion to stop those forces of order who opposed him, and imbued a certain immortality on his favored knight. Darkseed could not die, being restored to unlife time after time; he did much in the name of the dark lord, and also often worked with other agents such as Lord Sitor and Lady Venika. He personally hired and relied on fire knives as well, especially his favorite, the knife-and-crossbow fighter Lady Gretchen, though ultimately she perished so horribly he could grant her the unlife he himself had been granted.

Pharaoh Xarion, Champion of Chaos
   Xarion, the modern reincarnation of the eternal champion of chaos known by his first incarnation’s name of Xauraun Vestillios , was the greatest villain of this (and several other) eras.
   Xarion in the Empire Era is a pharaoh of Galonia, where all rulers are believed to reincarnate and eventually ascend to the ranks of godhood, anyway. Plagued with dreams and visions of his purpose and nature, he spends much of the early years of the 1,900’s seeking answers to the mystery of his origins, and eventually unlocks these secrets, determining he is the embodiment of chaos. Even without his infernal armor, an artifact that contains the collective memories and power of all his prior reincarnations, Xarion is still able to manifest potent sorcerous talent and gains control of several demon lords through their dark soul stones, including Orcus.
   Ultimately Xarion determines that the deadlands of Galonia are where his forebears remains, as well as his sacred armor, were interred. This knowledge is discovered during the later period of the Dark War, and excavations begin immediately after this revelation. Unfortunately for Xarion, those allies of order, the avatars, succeed in uniting the deranged mage Wiziz with the Staff of Order and awaken the consciousness of Warenis Burghest at last. In a grand confrontation that ends the war Xarion and Warenis seem to destroy one another in a magical battle. Only a few knew that Warenis trapped Xarion’s soul within a magical gem, with the intention of making sure the incarnation of chaos could never again reincarnate.
   During the Empire Era, Xarion is a growing, malignant tumor preparing to unleash the hell of the Dark War upon the Middle Kingdoms. From 1,960 to 1,962 the war rages across the land and causes an untold amount of death and destruction. After his defeat and imprisonment Xarion is a helpless captive within the soul gem, unable to escape to seek reincarnation. Still, it is likely Xarion had mental influence over his minions, and there may well have been efforts to secure his release, which would need to be thwarted by heroes as yet unknown. Furthermore, he did, ultimately, somehow end up in the hands of Black Annis, after which his escape was all but certain when his long-time followers divined the means by which they could free him of his captivity, after a fashion.
   The soul of Xarion would remain trapped like so until the years before the War of Strife, when the vile hag Black Annis gains the stone; loyal followers of Xarion (including Darkseed and Venika) manage to steal his armor from the tomb in which it is kept at Baloric Manor and merge it with Xarion’s stone. This act, combined with animating magic from Black Annis (on a promise that Xarion will provide the power necessary to resurrect Corrigan), imbues the stone with life, allowing Xarion to posses the stone and turn it in to a golem-like host body; Xarion then callously satisfies himself with revenge for Annis’s participation in his imprisonment by slaying her daughter, Corrigan, shortly after she is restored to life by the lich king Laikhanamen, but his mind is momentarily shattered by a close call with the Orb of Oblivion in the incident, and he is subsequently dismembered, to insure his gemstone form cannot reincorporate; all of this happens much later than the Empire Era, however.

Lady Nialle
   One of the greatest internal threats to Hyrkania lies in Blackholm, in a well-defended port city located along a deep cleft valley of the southern Bluesky Mountains. Here, the regent Nialle rules, a woman who was spurned by the emperor Usyllyses after she sought him out for marriage. Nialle has made more than one visit to Galonia, to learn of Xarion and his teachings, and it is rumored she has begun to dabble in necromantic arts. She has allowed for the open worship of the Galonian god-king amongst her people, and has allowed for the public display of worship of the chaos gods, as well.

   Orcus was a powerful demon lord, sometimes revered as a god of the undead, who was also in thrall to the machinations of Xarion, for his demon stone had been found during one of Xarion’s many early expeditions in the quest for power. Orcus was used as a vanguard to spearhead the first attacks of the vast chaos armies in to Hyrkanian lands, and was first fought and defeated by the company of mercenaries that included the avatars, though his physical form was not slain, allowing for his later return. Orcus would grow quite vengeful against the avatars over time, especially Wormie, who succeeded in attaining his soul stone from Xarion’s collection after the dark lord’s defeat.
   Unknown to many, Orcus’s greatest follower as Anharak the Vile, who it is believed by some later stole the secrets of true undeath from Orcus’s grasp.

The Assassin Sisters: Gretchen Sorinos, Teylayurana and Erinaska
   Gretchen Sorinos was one of a long line of human assassins with a strong reputation for getting the job done in the cult of the fire knives. She was a dedicate to Haro, and took the contact paid by Xarion himself to seek out those the dark overlord had divined as being agents of the gods of order (the avatars), to hunt and destroy them. She successfully infiltrated them, then stalked them until she was at last defeated not long before Xarion himself fell. Gretchen was one of three sisters who were all indoctrinated in to the fire knives, including Teylayurana (the first) and Erinaska. Whether her sisters sought revenge for Gretchen’s fall is unknown. Erinaska was known to have married Celiobantes later on, for a short while, before infidelity on both their parts led to separation. Teylayurana alone had children and generations later his great great grand daughter would join the madman and adventurer Cassius Agustus on his Quixotic quests. 

Drakonimus Smygaunus
   The most notorious of the elder red dragons in this era, Drakonimus was a leader among dragons and a chief suitor to the Dragon Queen of the North. He spawned a great many wyrmlings in this era, and was chiefly responsible for the great dragonflight that transpired after the Dark War, when chromatic dragons descended to feast upon the living and dead and sew a wave of destruction through the land, to remind humanity and other mortals of who it should truly fear. He was never defeated, and later took residence in the caverns beneath Baloric Manor (or more precisely, many suspect Baloric Manner was built over a known dragon lair to provide extra security for the terrifying artifacts the tombs beneath the manor contained).

Sorcerer-King Hadanur of Hotepsala
   Despite his poor relations with Hyrkania and Zued (he did try to seize power in the region of the Great Old Road province, after all) Hadanur was well-respected as a student of ancient prehunate sorceries, and was regarded as one of the only authorities on the matter at that time. He was already questing (unsuccessfully) for the pieces of the Lost Amulet of Eskandar at this time, though he did eventually descend to joining the cult of Baragnagor, which is when Hotepsala started to go south.

Quirak, Royal Advisor of Octzel
   One of the more malevolent problems that Octzel faces throughout the Empire Era is the manipulative ministrations of the Royal Wizard Quirak. Though Quirak would eventually face justice, he ruled from his tower in the Royal Gardens for many years, acting to manipulate both Octzel and Hyrkania in to war during the first years of the third millennium before a fatal encounter with the rogue Wormi. Quirak’s favored personal agent and assistant in this era was the disenfranchised devil named Hordak, who served as his minion for many years. He is also said to have had close relations with several of the women belonging to the elusive Black Society, including Lady Catea Gonn Andenir, wife in this time to the long-lived Ruoso Gonn Aleric.
   Quirak was regarded as something of a prodigy among mages due to his rapid ascent to power, though few knew his source of power came from the theft of Hagarant artifcacts from secret prison-tombs. Quirak also managed to attain a rather interesting set of demonic soul gems, and used the demons tethered to the dark stones as his personal thugs and enforcers. Quirak spend much of his time trying to unlock the secrets of immortality, and was believed to have worked directly with Duke Ruoso Gonn Aleric-Andenir (husband to Lady Andenir) in trying to find the fabled Fountain of Youth in the deep jungles of Amech; Ruoso, along with the orc mercenary Halshaggin and the scholar Sid succeeded in finding the fountain, but were unable to preserve its liquid for Quirak’s use. Quirak may have attempted a venture on his own at a later date.

The Mad Alchemist Macabath
   Macabath was a degenerate alchemist and sorcerer in the Hexerei Mountains who was eventually cast down and slain by Wormi during a period of rebellion against his mad rule in the region. He was responsible for a great many degenerate creations in the region, and was so repulsive even the local gray orcs could not tolerate his existence in the end.

Lady Venika
   Venika, the dark princess of the Abyss, was a powerful succubus and an agent of Xarion in this era. Her loyalty to chaos was first and foremost, and she caused a great deal of trouble right on up through the War of Strife period. She had a strange relationship with the dark paladin Darkseed.

Prince Avaskar of the Order of the Thorn Crown
   Prince Avaskar is another renegade silver elf, a knight of the Thorn Crown and dedicate to the Unseelie Courts of darkness, as embodied by the enigmatic spirit of Corrigan, the fabled Witch Queen. His order has three goals: to restore the witch queen to power (a task that may or may not have happened, though she could have returned and then been struck down again, in time for her later second resurrection in 2064 or thereabouts), to seek vengeance for her death as caused by the lich king Laikhanamen (a hard task for Laikhanamen was insidiously difficult to pin down) and to set about bringing the rule of the unseelie to the mortal world. He was not liked by his silver elf kin, and he was known to belong to the outcast ranks of the salienform.
   In the Empire Era, there are believed to be less than two or three dozen Thorn Crown knights in total, though some have amassed quite a few followers. They served neither order nor chaos, though they fought against Xarion in the Dark War. Avaskar was known to have a fortress in the remote Thargonid Mountains, where the trolls regularly sought to cast him out, and failed time and again. He often consulted with Black Annis on the matter of Corrigan, the hag of the Niras Woods. Black Annis had a thing for the knights of his order, delighting in their presence as much as she always loathed the Kom’Huandyr rangers.

High Priestess Amathris of the Ashtarth
   Amathris took control of Dahik after her predecessor was banished (they tried to execute Eremaska, but she escaped to the deepest domains of the underworld where the Mind Flayers ruled). Amathris was more cunning and deceitful than her sister, and instituted the first state-sanctioned cult dedicated exclusively to Dalroth; she decried the demon gods as nothing more than servitors to the chaos gods, which upset the many demon cults, but she then recognized them all as equal, so long as all of them acknowledged Dalroth as first among the dark pantheon; those who failed were driven out or exiled; many of those clans sought refuge later with Plagistron in the Mountains of Madness.
   Amathris’ exact fate is unknown; she was a quiet but effective ally in the Dark War, and continued to cause trouble for many years, though she had been overthrown by the time of the War of Strife, it is believed.

Ungden Gore, Troll General
   Ungden Gore was Invidia’s favorite thargonid general, also a brother of sorts (as such relations go among trolls) as well as carnal relation. He led the assaults against Hyrkan’ien and other sites, doing untold levels of damage before he was at last defeated in undocumented circumstances.

Invidia, the Troll Queen
   Invidia rose to power in this exact era, slaying her predecessor in a massive coup de’tat (of which little is known); Aronys Villibich was the former queen, and Invidia didn’t just kill her, she trapped her soul in an infernal pyre and imbued its essence in a vast crystalline lattice she used as a sort of sculpted crystal ball deep beneath Hoggoth. It is rumored Invidia had had relations with Xarion, and that he gave her the power and leverage necessary to usurp control; indeed, Invidia threw the might of the thargonid armies behind the chaos armies of the Dark War, and from their position deep within Hyrkanian borders they caused a great deal of damage, including a partial sack-and-pillage of the capitol, where a small army of trolls managed to work their way up beneath the city through caverns that connected with the city-works before bold heroes were able to descend and seal the passages that allowed the trolls access.
   Invidia lives long enough for Phyxillus to personally deal with her during the crusade years of the late 2100s, after which a magical curse (believed to have been activated by the trapped spirit of the late troll queen according to some) froze both Phyxillus and her crusaders as well as Invidia in crystalline stasis until 2,472 aw, after which a new batch of avatars were able to free her and help Phyxillus finish Invidia off for good.

Celiobantes Astiriate (as a young Fire Knife)
   House Astiriate has had an ages-old affiliation with the Fire Knives and may be a founding house of this order that serves as a cult of assassins and priests to the god Haro. Celiobantes in the Empire Era is a young, aspiring sylvan elf, one of seven siblings, only one of whom will one day advance to the inner circle of control in the clan. His history in this era is undisclosed, though it is known he later cut down all of his other brothers (or they perished by other means) making him the Champion of Haro in later generations. His rival siblings includes, Calivante, Aristos, Venentir, Makaradas, and the sisters, Inadrae, Calionis and Phaedra (yes, that Phaedra).

Anharak the Vile (half orc warlock)
   This half-orc turned warlock craved power. He was a second-born prince of Starthias and secret priest of Orcus, destined to greatness only after assassinating his own brother to gain the throne of power. Anharak (who would, much, much later come to be known as Unarak after his transformation in to lichdom) was granted a position on the council after journeying to Karan and demanding a place in the council, citing his dominion from Starthias to the Silver Mountains as sufficient reason. They agreed, on condition that he settled upon the Silver Mountains for his domain and that he ceased his threatening advances against the Hyrkanian Empire. Anharak, suspect that the dark lord Xarion in the south was a true agent of chaos, agreed, not wishing to sacrifice his power base in the name of another more powerful than he. Anharak was famous for many other curious acts, including the reanimation of Archaggal Modar, founder of the ancient demon-city of Starthias to serve as his regent while he plotted from his throne of power in the Silver Mountains. Many believed Anharak was slain by assassins or adventurers not long after his rise to power, but none can say for sure; his exact fate at this time is unknown, though his later return as an undead being followed by his discovery of a divine spark elevated him to the ranks of godhood; while it is known his ascension happened after the Cataclysm, the details of how all this transpired (and when!) remain unknown.

Aramik Gonn Atawin of Octzel
   Atawin was a less well-known scheming nobleman, the duke of Pheralin, who conspired often to make a profit off of others’ misfortunes or to turn a bad situation in to his favor. Atawin was brother to the mad chaos priest Ardanikus, who he granted a secluded castle retreat to engage in his studies in the remote plateau off near Dagger Falls.

Artanikus the Mad
   Aramik’s brother, Artanikus was a degenerate servant of Slithotep and the one who rediscovered the lost Codex of Prophecy, though the story about how and where he found it remains untold. Artanikus unlocked the power of the book and used its chaos spells to carve out a new, vast chasm, a planar gate to the Abyss, in the eastern plains near Covarte and the Silver Mountains. It is commonly believed he was swallowed up by his own deed, but none can say for sure, and in later years his castle retreat on the plateau from Dagger Falls was said to be haunted by strange and nightmarish entities.

Velvithron Sitor, apprentice to Xarion
   Velvithron Sitor was one of Xarion’s first true allies, and Sitor was given a place of prominence in the Galonian administration. Sitor’s estates were located in the southern Hyrkanian province of Sendral, and his family relied on trade and commerce with the dwarves of the Iron Mountains and Caratea in the east; when the threat of war loomed, Sitor took advantage of his relations with Xarion, slaying his own family (those who did not swear fealty to him) and rapidly conquering the Sendral province with an army of orcs, dragons, goblins and demons. He retained power for many years even after the Dark War ended, resulting in a minor crusade in the south, until his power base was shattered by house Kormak. Even then Sitor escaped to his remote mountain tower retreat, where no siege could break his seclusion, and it was speculated his underworld allies kept the keep supplied indefinitely.

Tenkan Horash Glottar
   Tenkan was a revolting half elf/half-orc and the feared and loathed guild master of the Black Lotus gang of thieves in Octzel until Wormi slays him and takes the position in later years. Wormi did work under him for close to fifteen years before their “falling out.”

Lex Hyrakor
   Lex Hyrakor is an agent of the Divinate, a powerful regional church in southern Hyrkania that has risen to power in the last few decades and is now seeing a resurgence of interest in the wake of apocalyptic fears about the rising darkness. Officially the Divinate is a church of the god Dalroth, who many believe is a savior god, one to whom you pledge loyalties to seek forgiveness before the End Times. Dalroth is known as a chaos god, but the Divinate teaches that he, and others like him, are not an oppositional order who seek to destroy the world but instead to liberate it. They might be right…but liberation in the eyes of chaos might be a terrible thing. Still, the church of the Divinate believes that it is better to side with those forces they believe will ultimately reshape the world.
   Lex himself belongs to Hyrendan’s powerful house Hyrakor, and is one of the chief agents of the Divinate in this time. He becomes an emissary to Xarion, and serves as his agent and informant in the southern lands of the Empire, as well as providing council to Regent Tharaskos of Hyrendan, whose bloodline is said to have tiefling taint.

Next: Lingusia and the Planar Realms

Text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved

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